Pan Am equestrian contenders roll with risks

Horses speed though blue jay corner, leap over a giant Canada goose and whiz past a wooden beaver, but the cross country portion of equestrian three day eventing is no jog through the park to check out the flora and fauna.

It can be dangerous business. Those bales of hay can bite.

Consider that in the picturesque rolling hills north of Toronto Saturday, on a Pan Am Games course that really is beautiful, the top Canadian rider after Friday dressage didn even make it past the second of 26 obstacles. That was Kathryn Robinson. canada goose uk And the defending individual gold medallist, Uxbridge Jessica Phoenix, is just recently back in the saddle after breaking three ribs, her clavicle and her sacrum along with requiring surgery to repair her liver after a tumble in May. There was no guarantee she even recover in time for these Games.

do it all the time, Canadian team member Colleen Loach said of Phoenix rising. a pretty tough bunch.

The four person Canadian team, that also includes Waylon Roberts, sits in third place after two days. The United States is first, Brazil second. Sunday show jumping will settle things but Canada will be without the disqualified Robinson. Teams only count their top three scores so the Canadians remain in good position for a medal in the challenge that tests horse and rider in three different disciplines.

This is a qualifier for Rio, but the Canadian eventing team has already punched its ticket to next year Games.

Robinson, so strong in dressage Friday, was one of 10 riders eliminated Saturday. Forty two started. Robinson horse, a black gelding named Let it Bee, clipped a leg as it ascended over the Hayracks a fence between bales of hay and both she and the horse stumbled over the obstacle.

was completely my fault, said Robinson. was just out of the start blocks going a bit too quick and I just didn respect that jump. He just hit it in front and sort of crumpled and landed. I came off the front and I think he kind of rolled with me. It was a bit of a blur by that point. I fine. He fine.

Robinson was attended to by doctors after walking off the course. Let it Bee was examined by vets.

has) been given a clean bill of health, and the horse hasn suffered any injury whatsoever, said Clayton Fredericks, a two time Olympian for Australia and international technical adviser to the Canadian team. was just an unfortunate misjudgment and that what happens. She got a little close to fence two and, maybe because of the atmosphere and everything that around, the horse maybe lost a little bit of concentration and he just caught a leg and put her into a bit of spin. She rolled and she got back up and he got back up, they dusted themselves off and walked back to the barn.

Phoenix, who had an excellent ride Saturday, wasn so lucky when she was thrown from her mount on May 9 at a meet in New Jersey. The Uxbridge rider spent 11 days in hospital after her surgery. She said hitting the ground is what lacerated her liver and broke the sacrum, a small triangular bone at the base of the spine. The injuries put an appearance at these Pan Ams in serious doubt.

The home crowd revelled in her ride Saturday, cheering her throughout and then many chanted her name after she finished. She said the response was and that she was only able to make it back to competition due to her support system.

sport, when you going for it, things happen sometimes, she said of the injury. Phoenix, 31, and her horse Pavarotti are also trying to defend their individual Pan Am gold medal from 2011.

While that might seem matter of fact, Fredericks said that ability to move on from injuries and falls has to be part of a rider makeup in order to succeed in the sport. He said, for example, that he expects Robinson to quickly shake off Saturday tumble.

never nice to go through that, he said. experienced that plenty of times myself. But it a real mental game being able to control your mind and get up and go again. We seen it many times before. Most likely Kathryn will have an exceptionally good next event.

While losing 10 competitors in cross country seems like a harsh way to cull the numbers, it was almost exactly what course designer Wayne Copping of Australia predicted when he put this layout together. This course, on Will O Farm, will stay as a legacy after the Pan Ams.

would be a nice thing would be for 30 to finish, he said before the competition. would like every team to finish if I could, but some have only got three (riders) so that will be difficult. That was my plan, but that said, you cannot dumb down the test.